Consumer Commission probes major retailers for alleged garlic and ginger price gouging

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) is investigating seven retailers on allegations of price gouging. Stock photo.
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) is investigating seven retailers on allegations of price gouging. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/Aleksandra Novikova

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has started investigations into Food Lovers Market, the Spar group, Pick n Pay, the Shoprite group, Boxer Superstores, Cambridge Foods and Woolworths for alleged price gouging.

Other stores could also be added to the investigation later.

The investigations were prompted by an outcry from consumers over the allegedly excessive prices of ginger and garlic.

“The law defines price gouging as an unfair or unreasonable price increase that does not correspond to, or is not equivalent to, the increase in the cost of providing that good or service,” said commission spokesperson Phetho Ntaba.

Acting consumer commissioner Thezi Mabuza said the investigation was initiated under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

“The purpose of the CPA is, among others, to reduce and ameliorate any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by consumers.

“Our investigation is not limited to these suppliers. We urge consumers throughout the country to monitor the market and where they suspect excessive price increase, they must file complaints with the commission.

"These allegations, if proven true, would constitute a violation of regulation 350 and an imposition of a fine of up to R1m, or up to 10% of a supplier’s annual turnover, or even imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months,” said Mabuza.

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